Category Archives: Animals

Some Memories Never Die

Since I keep talking about writing from experience, I thought I would write this week about an episode of my life that has been on my mind lately. I can’t explain why it just happened to pop up this past week or two, especially since it took place more than 40 years ago.

The year was 1971 and I was in my single digits, but old enough – at least back in those days – to get around town on my own. My family and I were living that summer in a flat in Bucharest, the-then capital of “communist Romania,” well behind the Iron Curtain. Bucharest, of course, is still the capital, but as this was a different time, it may as well have also been a different place.

When we were not touring the beautiful Carpathian Mountains or enjoying the beaches of Romania’s Black Sea, we pretty much got caught up in the city life routine of Bucharest.

I know this all sounds more like a story in itself, but the event I want to highlight occurred one morning in the courtyard, in the rear of our building, where I liked to play.

So anyway, during that particular morning, one of the neighbor women who I got to know, came out carrying a live chicken. She had, apparently, maintained a firm grip on the legs all the way home from the market, as it hung upside down squawking in her right hand.

If you have already figured what was about to happen, don’t spoil the “surprise.” Remember, I was just a young child from a big, modern American city, who wasn’t quite sure what the woman’s next move was going to be and certainly did not want to believe it.

Oh yeah, I suspected what was about to go down, but it all happened so fast, that I didn’t have time to digest it until it was all over. Even if there had been time, which there wasn’t, I couldn’t ask what she was doing, since my Romanian vocabulary encompassed little more than “good morning” and “thank you.” It did not include, “What the bloody hell are you doing with that chicken and cleaver?!”

The deed was done in only a second, but the main event had just begun. The chicken’s severed head flapped around, bobbing up and down, clucking wildly, as if it had taken on its own life and personality. I’m sure this was all a weekly routine for the woman, but up until then I had never seen anything like it, especially as a small kid from “big city America.” Had I mentioned that? After all, it was enough of a shocker to have to stand in long lines for fresh milk; that is if you could even find a market that had it in stock in this country where most farmers didn’t have the luxury of a tractor and still used a horse and cart to get produce to the market.

But then, over in “ring number two,” the chicken’s headless body did its own act, running – not walking – around the courtyard in a circle and in a state shock, as if it could see where it was going. It was as if it, too, had taken on its own personality, not realizing the cleaver across the neck deal meant it was supposed to drop dead.

Okay, so even though I have yet to use any part of this particular incident in any of my stories, this is the type of personal experience I draw on when I type away on my keyboard. It is an event that, 40-plus years later and for better or worse, remains vividly imprinted in my mind. And, while it is rare that I will use an entire event in a story, I will take bits and pieces to combine and embellish to fit my needs.

A Dangerous Place To Write

dangers

Don’t envy me because I’m in Sunny Florida. (That sounded pretentious, didn’t it?). This is not a safe place. It’s downright dangerous. I’ve already had to pull a snake out of the pool!

And I was talking to my sister, Annette, a couple of nights ago. She said she doesn’t go anywhere near the beach. Sharks. Loads of ‘em. And if they don’t get ‘ya the rip tides will.

My sister Lucille, has a lake in the back of her house. They have to be careful when they go outside. There are three alligators in it and they like to come out of the water, every now and then, and and walk around their property.

And now people are telling me about bears. Black bears walking around the nieghborhoods. What? Oh, yeah, they say. You’ll see them sometimes in people’s back yards. Don’t feed them, someone told me. Like she had to tell me that! As though I’d be outside calling out, “C’mon over here, seven foot bear, and take this bread from my hand.” The idea of feeding a bear that was in my back yard would never occur to me. But I guess there are people who need to be told that kind of thing. It’s the reason they have to put warnings on stuff that say things like, “This lawn mower is not to be used for cutting hair.”

And Panthers. Can’t forget those. I was warned about them, too. And don’t let your little dog go outside alone. Hawks will grab her. Okay, what the hell did I get myself into? I had visions of sitting out in the sun with a cold drink at my side and my laptop in front of me, happily typing away at the keyboard. I imagined writing with the warm rays on my face and the sound of the pool’s gurging water in my ears. How relaxing. Now it seems as though I’ll be taking my life in my hands.

Oh, okay. It’s probably not all that dangerous (glances out the back window looking for bears). But there really is a lot of wildlife walking around. We heard a racket one morning and ran to the front window. A flock of four foot high, grey birds, with long legs and necks were coming down the street like they owned the place. About eight of them. They were screeching loud enough to wake the dead. It was like they were daring anybody to come out. They were like feather covered gangsta’s. “Come on out! I dare ya’!” We all cowered inside our houses until the went away.

It’s cool, though, really. There’s a huge conservation area nearby and people really did tell me all those things to watch out for. Being a writer, this is all just more material. There are stories, here, just waiting to be told.

I’ll tell them from inside the house, though. No, I’m not scared of the animals! It’s the sun. It’s very hot. Really.